Recommendation/Expereince on Film Scanners?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by paul_lassiter, Aug 28, 1997.

  1. I would be interested in knowing what film (negative/transparency) scanners are being used by subscribers for medium format film scans and with what degree of success.
     
  2. We use three scanning methods here at our agency, depending on budget and quality requirements:
    1. best - The Hell drum scanner at our service bureau ($129,000!) definitely the best at $98 - $350 per scan, depending on size. The PMT sensor gives the best shadow color and detail, the sharpness is perfect, and the built-in CMYK separation is the best.

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    2. good - The Leaf 45 scanner ($14,000) This is a CCD scanner that scans film only from 35mm to 4x5. It does not have a drum, it uses Beseler enlarger negative holders and scans negs or transparencies flat in 3 passes. It only does RGB. Separation must be done later in Photoshop. It is the best method we've found for direct scans from color negs, due to the excellent LUTs. Used ones are available from $5000 to $10,000.

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    3. fair - Making prints and flatbed scanning ($500). Fair quality shadow color and detail. One benefit is that you can color correct, dodge-burn, etc. on the print before you scan. Sharpness is not bad because you can start with a large print.
     
  3. I use a UMAX Powerlook II for my medium format scans. This scnner works with 600*1200dpi optical and 36 bit. In US$ it must be about 1000,- . I get really good results for my work.
    A friend of mine has a AGFA Duo Scan (1000*2000 dpi / 36 bit). This scanner is about $ 2500,- and gives you scans for every amateur and semiprofessional use. Even some professionals gets results good enough for their use.
     
  4. I use a Powerlook 2000 (1000x2000 dpi) and it does just fine, especially on MF film. Next step up is PhotoCD. Top line is drum scanner.

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    Most important is original image quality. You can't take a bad original and turn it into a work of art, no matter what the scanner. Garbage in, garbage out!

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    I can use the scanner to get average-good quality 35 mm scans to letter-size. Using MF film, great quality!
     
  5. I've been using an Agfa DuoScan. It is a flatbed scanner with a 8 1/2 by 14 inch refective plate and a built in drawer for transparecies. At 1000 x 2000 dpi and a high dynamic range it is better than most negative scanners. Special mounting frames let you scan a batch of 4 6x6, 6x7 or 6x9 without any glass support. It also comes with batch frames for 35mm negative strips and mounted slides. For larger transparencies and negatives (ie 4x5 or 6x17 panorama) there is an 8" x 10" glass plate that you tape the negative to -- or you can build your own glassless mask insert (easy enough). You can scan into Photoshop at 16 bits per color (48 bits) to get really great shadow detail. At about $6000 is just about the most versitile scanner on the market for home or a small shop. Of course, a drum scanner would be better but I don't really want to sell my house ---. If you only need to scan negatives up to 4x5, the Nikon LS-4500AF looks pretty good. It is available through B&H Photo.
     
  6. My query concerns the use of film scanners/Photo CD for monochrome photography, how many bits per pixel are needed for a smooth range of grey scales? What is the best way to print them out (my laser printer gives rather flat looking results of course resolution)? What resolution of scan is required for a good result of print on standand paper sizes, is there a simple table or formula?

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    many thanks for your views on the topic.

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    Nick
     
  7. Rick, I personally have seen NOTHING digital which produces a quality rich monochome print. There a few really great color inkjet printers that I would be proud to own and use for my color work but nothing beats a silver image for B&W. I considered printing digital images to a 120/220 or 4X5 film printer on panchromatic B&W film then printing from that internegative onto silver paper BUT --- I believe it takes a 16K line film printer to make a rich enough negative -- price, around $25K to $30K -- and I'm sure there must be considerable resolution loss. If you find a digital printer (ink jet or otherwise) that prints with anything near the quality of silver paper let me know. As far as scans are concerned, I scan monochrome at 16 bits -- do my tonal adjustments using Photshop 4.0 curves or levels controls, then change mode to 8 bits to sharpen and print. The histogram is always smoother usuing this method, especially if you have a difficult scan that needs a lot of adjusting to keep the shadow detail. It might be superstition on my part (given that I haven't yet found a good way to PRINT monochrome files) but I always use the 16 bit option. If nothing else it reduces the potential for artifacts during sharpening (fewer histogram gaps).
     
  8. By the way, If you use a Mac and are looking for a simple way to calculate the scan resolution you might need there is a really nice little shareware product called ScanSaver. I'm not sure where I picked it up but I just did an internet search and see it listed at http://pharmdec.wustl.edu/wuarchive/systems/mac/info-mac/art/
    I don't know if there is a similar product for those Wintel PC things, but hey, who cares!
     
  9. I just started scanning in my 6x6 transparencies on a drum scanner a couple of days ago.
    The images are to be displayed on a 2048x2048 super high-definition monitor. I first tried
    a test slide and taped it to the drum along the borders of the slide. After a few practice
    scans, the tape started coming loose and that slide was partially damaged. After that, I taped down more of the image (about 1/2 cm around all the borders) to the drum and haven't
    had any problems. However, you lose 1cm of the image (you can still see the transparent
    tape on the scanned image). Is there a better way to affix the slide to the drum without losing so much of the image? Any special tape?

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    The scans were performed at 1200 dpi and cropped down in photoshop, but the resulting images didn't look razor sharp when looking at the monitor from a close distance (1 ft). The scanner can scan up to 5000 dpi. Am I better off scanning the image at, say, 2400 dpi and decimating by two in photoshop? Theoretically, I don't see how it should differ as compared to scanning
    the image by 1200 dpi. The only other images I can compare my scans to are test images taken on 4x5 and scanned in at 4000 dpi and decimated using some specially designed filter (which I don't have). There's no manual to the scanner (misplaced) and the previous operator has since left, so everything is by the seat of the pants.
     
  10. With regard to the scanning problems mentioned by James Chow:

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    If the photo program is actually doing a true "decimation", then it is much
    same as doing the scan at the resulting resolution. Decimation is a process where input samples are simply skipped in order to produce the output samples. It's faster, and appropriate for low res thumbnails, etc., but inappropriate for quality reductions. (Actually doing the higher
    resolution scan and then "decimating" will result in more grain, due to using
    a smaller aperature.)

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    What you would really like to do is to scan at the higher res and then
    resample, using an averaging process. The result is a smoother-toned image
    that has the same degree of sharpness as the other resolution.

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    When taping, cover the entire "leading" edge of the film with tape, in order to
    avoid air-flow problems that could snatch the film from the drum. You can of
    course rotate the film to your advantage and then rotate the resulting scan in
    Photoshop.

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    There are also some scanning aids, such as gels which will fill the void between the film and the drum. These help with problems with scratches, but may also allow you to use less tape. (They have to be cleaned off the film when done.)
     

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